VILNIUS - For over a week now, Vilnius has been hosting the third International Theatre Festival Sirenos (Sirens). Fifteen plays, from Lithuania and abroad, are being staged at the festival, including the international premiere of "The Attendants' Gallery 's Stories of Europe." The festival also marked the first time the Station House Opera, the traveling avant-garde group based out of London, visited Eastern Europe.
Organizers have suggested that, because of financial difficulties, this year could mark Vilnius' last Sirens festival, so the preliminary opening on Sept. 6 had a whiff of sadness about it. A group of roaring sirens introduced the British project "Architects of Air," 800 square meters of an inflatable hand-made sculpture of naturally lit corridors. Two-hour long lines formed to enter the sculpture.
The highlight of the festival began on Sept. 21 when two Lithuanian plays, "Innocence" and "Love and Death in Verona" took place in two different theaters at the same time. The festival's theme this year is to deal with spatiality, which, in my understanding, is about managing to see all of the plays, since they are performed once and tend to sell out quickly.
The Station House Opera opened the foreign program on Sept. 23. In a work called "Roadmetal Sweetbred," actors projected their reflections onto a whiteboard. At one moment you are led to believe the projected image is the actor, acting in real time. Then you find out that the projections of the actors are doing something else entirely, off the stage.
And what happens when the projection decides to kill the real actor swaying a hammer over his head? Well, it's not easy to figure out who to cheer for, but the audience ended up applauding the performers (or was it their images) for 10 minutes.
"The Attendants' Gallery 's Stories of Europe" recreated the 20th century with an international cast from Slovenia, Finland, Portugal, Romania and Ireland. We see a combination of the dark sides of history most want to forget in lieu of the sugary history of Barbie dolls and chewing gum.
The festival will put on two more plays that play with some old classics, including "Sad Songs from the Heart of Europe," which was directed by Finn Kristian Smeds and stars a Lithuanian, Aldona Bendoriute. Think of it as an after story to "Crime and Punishment."
"Hashirigaki" is a sound and light interpretation of Gertrude Stein's bizarre novel "The Making of Americans," which will feature a soundtrack that includes the Beach Boys and ancient Japanese tunes.
On Sept. 28, the festival will join with the film center Skalvija to feature "SMC TV," a performance without any real form. The evening of Sept. 29 will be dedicated to Matthew Barney.
Let's just hope this keeps going next year.
More info: www.sirenos.lt